Travel and Expense

On Business Travel, Parents and Non-Parents See Things Differently

SAP Concur Team |

The past three years have been undeniably difficult for parents and caregivers. It is a challenging and rewarding role even in the best of times, but the pandemic made it virtually impossible to dedicate attention solely to the responsibilities of childcare or employment. This experience impacted how caregivers approach work, the importance of flexibility, and—as our annual survey found—business travel.

According to the 2023 Global Business Travel Survey, nearly every parent surveyed this year (99%) said that they are willing to travel for business in the next 12 months. However, these business travelers also report that they are being tapped for business travel more than they’d prefer. Forty-four percent of surveyed parents say they are traveling for work more than they’d like, compared to 25% of non-parents and 38% of business travelers overall.

Our survey data suggests that parents who travel for business may be experiencing the circumstances of 2023—the uncertainty, the geopolitical conflicts, the urgency of climate change—through a different lens than those without children. Overall, parents are more likely to identify a threat to their business travel today than non-parents (95% vs. 86%, respectively). They are more likely to say that health and safety concerns (48% vs. 37%) and international or local conflicts and tensions (37% vs. 27%) are among these threats. Parents are more likely than non-parents to say that the uncertain economy is affecting their company's business travel (90% vs. 79%). And 93% of parents plan to take steps to reduce their environmental impact while traveling for business over the next 12 months, compared to 81% of non-parents.

To ensure their health and safety, parents are more likely than non-parents to expect their company to allow travel choices outside of company policy (94% vs. 82%), and they are more willing to decline a business trip if it doesn’t meet their expectations (94% vs. 85%). Their top reasons to justify booking outside of company policy—which parents are more likely to select than non-parents across the board—include:

  • Ensuring they feel safe when traveling to certain areas of the world (51% vs. 40%).
  • Supporting their ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance (50% vs. 40%).
  • Booking more sustainable travel options (39% vs. 30%).
  • Adding personal travel to their work trip (36% vs. 29%).
  • Booking for a conference (34% vs. 23%).
  • Having ideological or lifestyle differences with their travel destination (33% vs. 22%).

Protecting their health and safety is imperative to this group, further underscored by the fact that three in five parents (62%) have changed their accommodations on a business trip in the past 12 months specifically because they felt unsafe, and one-third (34%) have done so more than once. In contrast, around one-third (36%) of non-parents have done so in the past 12 months, including 15% who have done so more than once.

It should be noted that just under a quarter of parents (23%) would decline a business trip due to challenges with finding childcare, suggesting that the majority have support systems at the ready or are determined to make a business trip happen, no matter what. Also, only 17% of responding parents feel they haven’t always had an equal opportunity to take business trips compared to co-workers due to their status as a parent or caregiver.

It is important that organizations consider these findings as they adjust their travel policies to accommodate the evolving needs of the workforce, including working parents and caregivers. Flexibility is crucial: The Women in the Workplace 2023 report, published by McKinsey and, found that women and men rank workplace flexibility higher among employee benefits than parental leave and childcare.

For more information about the 2023 Global Business Travel Survey, including additional findings, please download our business traveler, travel manager, and SMB business traveler whitepapers.

The SAP Concur global business traveler survey was conducted by Wakefield Research between April 7-28, 2023, among 3,850 business travelers in 25 markets: U.S., Canada, Brazil, Mexico, LAC (Colombia, Chile, Peru, and Argentina), UK, France, Germany, ANZ region (Australia and New Zealand), SEA region (Singapore and Malaysia), China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, India, Korea, Italy, Spain, Dubai, Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg), South Africa, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland. Data has been weighted to facilitate tracking.

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